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Full report: Families rescued after SOS in the sand

Two families in Cornwall are counting themselves lucky tonight after they got trapped by the tide on a beach near Rock.

It was their impromptu SOS message that was spotted by a passing walker from a cliff top.

The four adults and three children wrote the words 'Call for Help' in the sand.

The alarm was raised and a lifeboat raced to rescue them.

Jacquie Bird takes up the story:


Picnickers rescued after writing message in the sand

Four adults and three children have been rescued by lifeboat after they got trapped on a beach in Cornwall by the swell. The RNLI was called to Butter Hole beach in Padstow yesterday after a cliff walker spotted the words "send for help" written in the sand.

The party had sailed in for a picnic but as the tide flooded the waves increased and they were afraid to launch back into the sea with the children onboard. As they didn't have radios they wrote the message in the sand and were lucky that it was seen.

This was a very difficult rescue carried out with great skill and bravery. There was the ever present threat of the lifeboat being swamped or capsized by the dumping seas, but our crew worked together to recover all the people and then their boats.

The group made a very sensible decision not to try launching their boats but they were lucky that a walker noticed the message calling for help written in the sand.

I would remind people that it’s important to have a suitable means of contacting someone when going to sea. Don’t assume you will have a mobile phone signal so take a VHF radio.

– Mike Hewitt, RNLI volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager at Rock